The chain store has now started insuring spouses that are legally married, no matter their gender.
In Florida, the county court clerks have now started to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples and the grocery and pharmacy chain, Publix, has responded by extending its insurance plans to cover any legal spouses of its employees.
The company had intended to start to offer this health insurance coverage to same sex couples, regardless of state law.
The issuing of the marriage licenses to same sex couples has become a legal duty for the county court clerks as of the start of the year, but according to Publix, it had intended to make sure that its employee insurance plans were available to same sex spouses, regardless of the implementation of that law. The corporation has now also informed its workers that lesbian and gay couples who have already been legally married outside of the state would also be eligible for the health insurance plans starting at the beginning of this year.
LGBT activists have stated that they are feeling encouraged by the new insurance policy eligibility at Publix.
Doug Landreth, an LGBT activist and a president of Gay Grassroots, a group located in Northwest Florida, has expressed that he is pleased with the direction that Publix is taking with its health insurance eligibility regulations. He said that “I think it shows that sometimes corporate America can actually be looked to as leaders in changing what should become public policy.”
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He explained that the battle that the LGBT community has faced with regards to equal treatment has been among the most rapidly growing movements in civil rights that the country has ever experienced, and that he is hopeful that the type of changes that Publix and other corporations have made to their policies could serve as motivation to other people and businesses to press ahead of the speed of the legislature and the government as a whole.
Landreth pointed out that the type of changes made by corporations, such as the same sex couple insurance policies available to Publix employees are not just a matter of civil rights. From a business perspective, they are also “in the best interest of your bottom line, in terms of retention rates and recruiting, but also in public opinion to gain favor and be seen as a good corporate neighbor in the community.”